L1 Dominette is the first livestock animal to be sequenced, the university reports.
The sequencing project included more than 300 scientists in 25 countries. It "provides new information about the evolution of cattle dating back about 300 million years."
Of particular interest to the university's adaptive immunity group is the potential to better understand bovine immunology and the gamma delta T cell, which could give researchers "critical information on how to fight diseases such tuberculosis and leptospirosis."
Cynthia Baldwin, of the UMass Amherst faculty, adds, "The genome sequences give us another tool in the box for understanding the ruminant body's response to infectious disease. Through this study, we've annotated hundreds of immune function genes, including about 50 cytokine genes, as well as the bovine gamma delta T cell co-receptor genes."
In addition, researchers plan to develop potentially more effective vaccines against diseases caused by intracellular bacteria, protozoa and viral infections.
"The gamma delta T cells seem to be the key to the immune response in cattle. Knowing the genome sequence tells us what genes are there, what to measure in blood samples and the sort of molecules to test for. Overall, we can now hope to get a far more precise understanding of the animal's response to disease."
Science published the full report in its April 24 issue.